At Flame Rock Middle School, you show off your big biceps, post your dimples on InstaWitch, grow a cheetah tail, or use your fairy wings to fly down the hall.
Welcome to one of the July 13th stops on the blog tour for Freckles: The Dark Wizard by Jerry Harwood with Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more reviews and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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About the Book
Freckles: The Dark Wizard
by Jerry Harwood
Published 12 September 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Academic Fantasy
Page Count: 197
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At Flame Rock Middle School, you show off your big biceps, post your dimples on InstaWitch, grow a cheetah tail, or use your fairy wings to fly down the hall. For Simon, wearing his peers’ opinions can be a literal event. Especially since Simon has the visible mark of a weak wizard… freckles. What will happen when Simon learns he has dark magic and can conjure a dragon? Will he become one of the bullies he hated or choose a different path?
Simon stepped forward. Krull grabbed him and pushed him backwards. “What do you plan to do, Freakles? Throw freckles at someone?” Krull laughed. Simon looked at his arms as all his freckles reappeared. Then he looked up as another book flew into Trent’s hurt shoulder.
Simon saw the air around his fists swirl. He felt a connection to something outside of himself. Last time he couldn’t identify what it was, but this time he could. It was power. And it felt like the time Simon’s family went to the beach. Simon remembered the warm sun all around him, seemingly lifting him up with its warm rays. That was the feeling Simon had now, except instead of sunbeams it was beams of power.
Up through the floorboards an image appeared. It was a dragon. A small dragon, maybe no more than three or four feet. But a dragon. It rose from the floor directly beside Trent. Then it stood between Trent and Danzig. The dragon swished its tail and opened its mouth. A shot of white light cast over Danzig. He fell down. His eyebrows and hair burnt off. Danzig panicked and began slapping at the flames on his shirt. The dragon walked around Danzig and then huffed. Then it flew back to a spot between Trent and Danzig. It sat like a well-trained pet. Then, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished into a fog of smoke. No one saw Simon’s hands as they returned to normal. The growing crowd had their eyes fixed on Trent and Danzig, stunned to silence. Simon still stood behind his friend, but the smoke was gone. There was nothing around his fingers except for his freckles. For all anyone knew, it was Trent and not Simon who had summoned the dragon.
Simon heard someone off to his left say, “Trent is a dark wizard!”
My Rating: 4 Stars
Consider liking my review on Goodreads
I was granted complimentary access to Freckles: The Dark Wizard by Jerry Harwood as part of my participation in a blog tour for this title with Goddess Fish Promotions. Thank you to all involved in affording me this opportunity! My thoughts are my own and my review is honest.
Freckles: The Dark Wizard is the story of Simon, a middle school student at a wizarding school who’s dealing with freckles (stereotypically a sign of weak magical ability) and a recently discovered ability to conjur a dragon (stereotypically dark magic) but not at will. This is a story of spurned best friends, school bullies, sports teams, and learning to have compassion for others and just be yourself.
I love the overall message of this book and I think the reading level is quite appropriate to middle grade readers. There are many “magic school” stories out there in the children’s and teen categories, but not all of them are going to be as seamlessly accessible as this one.
Parents and young-at-heart readers may recognize a very Harry Potter feel to the magical sport focus, and in that way this could be a fun alternate book to introduce to kids if you’re feeling nostalgic.
My main criticism is kind of also a point of praise; it’s complicated. There’s a lot of pop culture planted in here and a lot of clever puns and alternate names for things that made me smile, and that’s always great. With that said, some things were renamed that just felt unnecessary. Awesome new magical sport? Cool. Wizardy play on the name of something mundane and recognizable? That felt a little more hit or miss. At times the references lost their charm and just felt like frequent loud reminders that we’re in a magical version of the world we know.
Overall this book is cute and unique with a great message, and I absolutely recommend this for middle grade kids and readers who love magical school settings.
About the Author
Jerry Harwood was born in Ooltewah, TN. His mother was an elementary school teacher and he spent his afternoons reading books in her classroom or the nearby library. He has experimented with other occupations: camp director, program director at a counseling center, college professor and middle school teacher. Jerry has backpacked Europe, taught in a Ukrainian University, worked in Rwanda after the genocide, is a first responder, sort-of remodeled a VW Thing, and has a love for Cherry Coke Zero that is only surpassed by his love for his wife, six children, and grandson.
Jerry attended college at UT Chattanooga where he was in university honors and majored in Latin and classical literature. He has two master’s degrees, nearing completion on a third. He lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he is an active member of the Chattanooga Writer’s Guild, the Atlanta Writer’s Club, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Jerry Harwood will be awarding two autographed print copies of the book, (U.S. only), to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
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